Thought for the day: “Censorship” on the net

“If your reading this, and you have never met me, let me teach you one single important thing right now that most people don’t yet know: Censorship is the rank amateur way of controlling people. It is not effective at all, especially in the information age. However, it has three highly effective off spring that are the tools of the professionals. These are Disinformation, Self doubt and Fear. These three are far more effective, and they work even when you are later exposed to the truth. If you look at it, negative people out there do all three.  They claim to know of failures, but have no names nor dates; They cite nameless “experts” who disagree with what has been shown to work; they make new builders doubt all the positive and factual reports, and gradually over years, they get you to be afraid to trust things that have been well proven to work. These efforts would have had little effect on our grandparents, but several decades of intense consumer marketing along the same lines makes all of us more prone to distrust, more likely to see some truth in the plausible lie. Unwittingly, many of the people who cry censorship are actually employing  the tools of the real propaganda artist.”

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For a number of years I harbored the delusion that I could participate in on-line aircraft discussion groups, and write some things that would allow new builders to understand that we had pioneered  very effective and reliable ways to build an operate Corvair flight engines. I freely admit that I was wrong. On any discussion group where people who are known only was “Flyboy26” or “RVguyCN” have the exact same size soap box as people with real names, specific experience, links to photos, there is no chance for new people to sort useful reality from dangerous fiction.

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On discussion groups I tried to advocate that people should use real names and they should never ‘recommend’ anything that they had not personally and specifically flown behind. I also advocated that all references to third party experts, require also stating that persons name, so people couldn’t say things like “A local expert here who has built 25 planes says that will not work.” These sounded like very reasonable ideas to me if we were going to talk about Corvair engines in planes for the purpose of getting people flying. I was wrong about that, and a number of very vocal people always claimed that I was “Censoring” them buy not supporting their ‘right’ to say anything.

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As you might imagine, I was quite a thorn in the side of people like ‘flyboy26’. I merely showed how things they advocated had long been proven by our testing not to work. Over time, these people hated me. They switched tactics to making wild claims about our products failing, they claimed to be in touch with ‘experts’ who assured them that a wave of failures was eminent, and they constantly tried to make people afraid to follow things we had long proven to work.

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These tactics didn’t win builders to their ideas, but they were very effective in getting a large number of new builders to do nothing. Probably without knowing it, ‘flyboy26’ and his buddies were employing real propaganda tools, Disinformation, Self doubt and Fear. Before getting kicked off discussion groups for life, I wrote the quote above in hopes that new builders would understand.  I look back today and see that hope as delusional also.

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BlogAdonis053114

Left to right, Three Corvair powered Zenith 601XL’s. Ken Pavlou, Roger Pritchard and Louis Leung’s planes in a row. Ken’s plane had just concluded phase one, 40 hours without the slightest issue, or need for adjustment. Roger and Louis have already flown their planes to Oshkosh. The builders of these planes are all members of a private discussion group that I formed as an alternative to open internet groups that allow comments from ilk such as ‘flyboy26’. You can read about the group at these two links:

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‘Zenvair’ Information board formed

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‘Zenvair’ information board, part #2

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Ken had never built a plane nor engine before. The reason why his flight testing was without event, is because he followed our proven path, and took no advice from internet ‘experts’. The same week that Ken flew off his last hour, another 601 with a Corvair in it took it’s first flight.  That builder chose to listen to many people, but follow very little that I had to say.

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His first flight lasted just 6 minutes, one trip around the pattern. Many of the things this man tried, like cooling plenums on the engine and a carb off an old British car, were championed by people on open discussion groups, the same people who called me a Censor for pointing out they had never tried what they advocated. When the builder got on the ground 6 minutes later, 1/10 of an hour, 1/400th of his testing done, perhaps he had greater respect for my efforts to ‘censor’ the speech of dangerous fools.

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About William Wynne
I have been continuously building, testing and flying Corvair engines since 1989. Information, parts and components that we developed and tested are now flying on several hundred Corvair powered aircraft. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Professional Aeronautics and an A&P license from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and have a proven 20 year track record of effectively teaching homebuilders how to create and fly their own Corvair powered planes. Much of this is chronicled at www.FlyCorvair.com and in more than 50 magazine articles.

2 Responses to Thought for the day: “Censorship” on the net

  1. Bruce Culver says:

    Sometimes you just can’t fix stupid….. It is a shame, of course, that the “free-style” idiots spouting nonsense on the web never have to pay for the real danger they pose in getting people to try to fly airplanes that are not safe because the builders followed their cock-eyed advice, but that’s life. As you have often pointed out, in aviation, the real idiots often kill other people while surviving themselves to strike again. I’m old enough to be a curmudgeon, and it saddens me to see how easy it can be for “marketing” to endanger people’s dreams and lives, as happened to your above example, and as a corollary, how often people who have physical evidence and working examples of the successful approach, will abandon that to follow some “unicorn” huckster…..

  2. Jon Ross says:

    Although I do not sell products in this business of aviation, I have had much the same experience as you. I read along on several aviation internet discussion groups, and it has been my experience that any participation almost always results in being attacked from behind the keyboard. This is true regardless of the facts surrounding the topic, no matter how well you support the position that you have put forth. People tend to feel safe hiding behind a keyboard, but what alarms me most is that builders receive misinformation that can result in an accident. I once advised an antique builder that his Ranger engine needed to be torn down after a ground loop that resulted in a prop strike, which reduced the propeller’s diameter to less than 50%. Because the prop was wood, the builder was told to simply do a run out check on the crank and leave it at that. The important lesson for me was that I now fully realize that most participants simply want to have someone tell them want they want to hear; which in most cases is related to cost.

    As an inspector, I often may have things to say which are not what the builder wanted or expected to hear. I have learned to preface each new contact by asking them to define what they are really looking for when asking my opinion. Interesting conversations often can develop…

    I am encouraged when I find people who clearly want to be safe and see the pitfall that we are discussing with respect to the now chronic, epidemic amount of misinformation made possible by the Internet. In my opinion, your philosophy topics included here make proper use of the Internet.

    So don’t feel alone William, you are not alone is being ostracized for speaking the truth.

    Happy 4th of July.

    Warm Regards,
    Jon Ross

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